From the book launch of Hands Off Wales – Monday, 18 February 2013

Noswaith dda, a diolch i bawb am ddod.

Good evening and thank you very much for coming to my book launch this evening.

It has been a privilege, an honour and a pleasure to research and write this history.  I have met men and women who are extraordinary: whose kindness, support and encouragement kept me going through many moments of doubt.  I have learnt so much about Wales: it’s rich, wonderful history, its wonderful people – and not to say one or two things about myself.

And I should add that I extend respectful thanks to all concerned in the writing of this book – irrespective of their political views, or their position as to the legal aspect of this story.  Each person that I interviewed, whether former activists involved in the militant campaign, or former police officers employed to apprehend them, could not have helped me, nor encouraged me to ‘keep going’ any more than they did.  I owe each and every one of them a huge debt of gratitude.  Could I also thank my former MPhil and PhD supervisors, Mrs Catrin Stevens and Dr Martin Johnes; Dyfrig Davies and Euros Jones-Evans of Telesgop; Gruff Vaughan of VC Media; Liz Hyder of Riot Communications; the book’s editor, John Barnie; and all at Gomer – especially Sioned Wyn and Ceri Wyn Jones.

I truly believe that Hands Off Wales is the definitive account of this episode in our Welsh history.  But if a young historian decides to relook at these events in ten- or twenty-year’s time, if approached to do so, I will help that person as much as I can.   And not only as a courtesy to all those who helped me, but also because this subject does not belong to me.  It belongs to all Wales, irrespective of language background, political background or cultural background.

Wales is a beautiful, vibrant, but vulnerable country.  As was brilliantly expressed by Emyr Llywelyn Jones to me some weeks ago, ‘We face Tryweryn every day’.  And he is right.  The recently released census figures told their own depressing story: the percentage of those who speak Welsh has fallen by 1% since 2001.  We have uncontrolled inward migration, which ensures that 26% of those who now live in Wales were born outside it.  Although, I should add, that a degree of cultural diversity is healthy for any country and that many fine people have moved to Wales and respectfully embraced Welsh culture.  These people should, of course, be welcomed and applauded for their efforts.

I hope, as a testament to people like Mrs Eileen Beasley, whom I had the great pleasure to meet and, to some small degree, get to know, and indeed many others who inspired this book, some of whom are here this evening, that Hands Off Wales will inspire another generation of young Welshmen and women to read about their nation’s rich cultural heritage.  This book was my way of giving something back – of saying ‘thank you’.  Thank you to Wales for all that it has taught me, and for all the wonderful things it has provided me.  I am proud to give something, very small, back in return; and I am proud to call myself a Welshman.

Diolch yn fawr.